Supplementation can be an important tool for proper fitness, but it’s one of those things that is very specific to the user. What works for one person may not work for the other, and if you happen to have Type-1 Diabetes, you need to be very careful about what you may be putting in your body, as it may inadvertently affect your blood sugars.
So, what are supplements? As they pertain to this specific post, supplements are anything you consume in order to help improve performance, muscle growth and/or energy levels in order to allow one to develop better. They can come in various forms, including pills, powders and even pre-mixed shakes. They vary in their delivery, meaning some need to be taken prior to working out, some after and some don’t really matter and simply need to be consumed on a daily basis.
I think that one of the important aspects to bear in mind, is that there’s no “magic pill” or supplement that will do anything for you. You have to put the work in, even if you take supplements and use them on a regular basis. I’m always reminded of an old friend of mine, from years ago. I stopped in during early morning to go for coffee. before we left his house, I noticed he scooped out a spoonful of some unknown powder and consumed it with a glass of water. When I asked him what the powder was, he said it was creatine, because he was trying to gain mass. When I asked him what workout regimen he was following, he gave me the curious puppy look and asked, “Workout? What workout? That’s what the supplement is for…”
Here’s the thing: a supplement is defined as something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. This means that there’s no supplement that will make you lose weight, help you gain muscle mass or burn fat on its own. The important thing to remember is that ALL of these supplements need to be used in conjunction with proper diet and exercise. It won’t DO the job for you, it may simply help make it a touch easier.
Another important aspect to remember is that most supplements are substances that you either already get from a proper diet or that your body already produces. Creatine or whey protein for example, can be good supplements to help push you along your fitness routine, but these are substances produced by the body and/or can be obtained by consuming certain foods. “Pre-workout” supplements, that I’m aware a lot of people I know consume, are basically just B vitamins, caffeine and creatine, which you can obtain naturally or elsewhere. I would argue that unless you’re feeling sluggish, there may not be a great need to take a pre-workout supplement.
From a Diabetes standpoint, it’s important to recognize that a lot of supplements may contain sweeteners, carbohydrate amounts or simply affect the body in such a way that will cause fluctuations in overall blood sugars. I’ve noticed over the years that almost everything indicates “not suggested for people with Diabetes” for exactly this reason. It isn’t that it will inherently cause issues. But it COULD affect Diabetes, which is why it becomes important to consult your doctor prior to starting any supplementation.
I’ll be the first one to admit I’d be hitting up my pharmacy, should they ever create a pill that will melt the fat off my gut. Otherwise, know what you’re putting into your body, consult your doctor and remember that there are no shortcuts to fitness. It’s incumbent on the person to include proper diet and exercise in order to reap the benefits of supplements. The body is programmed to do what it needs to, but should you feel the need to use a supplement, just be wary. And keep a close eye on what secondary effects you may get from using them. ☯️